Can Iran stop international trade via the Red Sea?

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“[T]HThe Iran-backed Houthis continue to violate international shipping in the Red Sea,” Saudi-led Arab coalition spokesman Brig. General Turki al-Maliki, said on December 8. He presented photographic and video evidence proving that Iran was behind the Houthi piracy attacks.

General Maliki said the Iran-backed Houthi rebels were using the Yemeni ports of Hodeidah and Salif as military bases from which to carry out their assaults. The Arab coalition reported 13 violations by the Houthis against commercial vessels sailing in the area. The coalition claimed that the Houthis attacked the Saudi oil tankers Rabigh 3 and Abqaiq, both in the Red Sea.

On January 3, the Houthis hijacked the United Arab Emirates-flagged freighter Rawabi as it passed the port of Hodeidah. The Arab coalition claimed it was transporting medical supplies; the Houthis claimed it was stocked with weapons. In 2019, the Houthis also seized three commercial vessels sailing in the Red Sea.

According to Maliki’s report, the Houthis launched 432 ballistic missiles and deployed 247 naval mines and 100 explosive-laden suicide boats from the port of Hodeidah.

A December 21 report from the Center for Strategic and International Studies showed that the frequency of Houthi attacks had doubled in the past year. He said: “In the first nine months of 2020, Houthi forces carried out a monthly average of 38 attacks. During the same period in 2021, this number increased to an average of 78 attacks per month, for a total of 702 attacks over the total nine-month period.

This strong upward trend in attacks shows that the Houthis are becoming emboldened and more active in the region. But are these attacks effective?

Dr. Scott Savitz, Principal Engineer at rand Society, says Jerusalem Post that naval mines and Houthi suicide boats “may not be able to sink” some of the larger ships but, “depending on where they were hit, could result in limited ability to steer, cause her to lose a part of its cargo or damage the propulsion system… and may not be able to complete their journeys.

The more frequent these attacks are, the more likely companies will choose to divert their ships to avoid losing their cargo. If commercial vessels chose to bypass the southern tip of Africa, the delays would increase prices and restrict supply, causing serious problems for the global economy, especially Europe. Sailing time from the Persian Gulf to Rotterdam, the Netherlands, for example, would increase by 78% and triple the sailing time from the Persian Gulf to Italy, which imported 19.7% of its crude oil from Iraq. in 2016.

While oil may take longer to reach Europe and therefore increase costs, it is much better for shipping companies for oil to arrive late than not at all.

“The [Houthi] weapons amplify the risk of travel, and if crews and shipping lines decide transit through the Red Sea isn’t worth the cost, they themselves will block the way,” wrote Jerusalem Post’by Seth Frantzman. “Risk aversion increases with mine density and frequency of boat attacks.”

An extension of Iran

Since the Houthis toppled Yemeni President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi in 2015, they have carved out their own piece of territory in western Yemen and held onto it through years of fighting the state-backed coalition between Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and the Hadi-led government in Yemen.

The Houthis are not ordinary revolutionaries, however; like their patron Iran, they are terrorists who seek the destruction of America and Israel. Their slogan is translated as “God is the greatest, Death to America, Death to Israel, Curse to the Jews, Victory to Islam”.

Watch Jerusalem editor Gerald Flurry writes in The king of the south, “The Houthi takeover of Yemen was not just a popular revolution. It was part of a deliberate and calculated Iranian strategy to conquer the Red Sea.

The only reason the Houthi revolution has lasted so long is because of Iranian intervention. Iran has long supported the Houthi militia. It provided the Houthis with air defense systems, drones, funding, missiles of various types, sea mines, training, weapons and much more.

On December 22, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei hailed “the martyrdom death of Iran’s hardworking and productive ambassador to Yemen, Hasan Irloo.” Controversy arose over how he died – whether from covid-19 or if he was injured in an explosion – but the fact that Iran negotiated with Saudi Arabia and that Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Kadhimi himself negotiated the flight to fly him out of Yemen shows how important Irloo was to the Iranian regime. The reason: Irloo was actually a commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Al-Quds Force sent by Iran to gain a foothold in Yemen, train Houthi forces and threaten international trade crossing the Red Sea. He was also a known contemporary of Qassem Suleimani, who was assassinated by the United States for his terrorist actions against the nation.

In December 2020, the United States sanctioned Irloo for his involvement in terrorist activities. According to a report by Iran’s Treasury sanctions envoy to Yemen and the university facilitating recruitment for the Al-Quds Force, Hasan Irloo had “supported [Quds Force] efforts to provide advanced weapons and training to the Houthis. It coordinated with other tops [Quds Force] leaders to support the group’s operations throughout the Arabian Peninsula and in Yemen.

Thanks to his support and leadership, the Houthi rebels have simply become an extension of Iran. Consequently, Iran now controls one of the most critical coastlines in the world.

“Now that Iran controls Yemen, it can practically turn off or open that tap on oil from the Middle East to Europe,” Flurry writes in The king of the south. It’s not about building massive warships that could rival those of the United States or Europe and having them patrol the Red Sea, but rather about creating enough turmoil and risk that shipping lines and ships decide it’s not worth the risk and re-route. All it takes is enough piracy, sea mines and missiles, all supplied by Iran.

Although we have not yet reached the point where the Red Sea is too dangerous to cross, events are heading in that direction.

Iran’s Red Sea Strategy

A biblical passage from the Book of Daniel for “the time of the end” prophesied this strategy about 2,500 years ago. Daniel describes this terrorist power bloc as “the king of the south”. Daniel 11:40 says, “And at the time of the end the king of the south will push him….” In The king of the south, Mr. Flurry identifies radical Islam, led by Iran, as this prophesied power. It shows how most of the land controlled by the king of the south is south of Jerusalem, but it’s all south of Europe. He also says the word “push” is key to proving that Iran is that prophesied king, citing Iran’s funding of terrorism, its desire to disrupt the oil trade through the Persian Gulf and the Red Sea, his flirtation with nuclear armament and his fanatical determination to bring about the oblivion and the return of his messiah. (To prove that Iran is that prophesied power, request your free copy of The king of the south.)

“But he [Iran] shall have power over the treasures of gold and silver, and over all the precious things of Egypt; and the Libyans and Ethiopians will follow him” (verse 43). This means that Iran will gain some form of control over Ethiopia, Egypt and Libya. These three nations are the key that reveals Iran’s strategy to control this crucial shipping lane from the Persian Gulf to the Arabian Sea, from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean Sea. Yemen is just a stepping stone to a finer degree of control.

“But what if you have radical Islamic nations along this maritime trade route with real air power, including missiles?” asks Mr. Flurry. “This could give Iran virtual control of trade across these seas. Radical Islam could stop the flow of essential oil to the United States and Europe! Keep monitoring events in Yemen and the Red Sea as attacks become more frequent.Soon, this vital sea route will be at the mercy of Iran, the Sultan of the Red Sea.

For more information on Iran’s strategy in the Red Sea, read The king of the south and “Iran Takes Over the Middle East”, by Gerald Flurry.

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